Hello everyone. In just a few short weeks my July release, Second Chance Family, will hit the shelves. This is the third book I’ve set in the town of Knotty Pine, Texas and it’s been really fun to be able to follow several characters through multiple books. This time the story focuses on two characters I’ve gotten tons of requests from readers to learn more about – namely Cora Beth Collins who runs the local boardinghouse and Sheriff Mitch Collins.
These two have been sort of dancing around each other since the very first book so I figured it was about time to let them find their own Happily Ever After. But it wasn’t easy. In fact, it took a pair of beleaguered, runaway orphans, a busybody neighbor, a stodgy town council and some matchmaking friends to nudge them into making a commitment. But even then, the frustratingly stubborn Sheriff Hammond was determined to make it an in-name-only marriage. The ever-resourceful Cora Beth, however, had other plans.
The tag line on the book, which my wonderful editor came up with, is Love was out of the question… until it became the only answer. And I think this is a great summation of the story.
Below is an excerpt that I hope you will enjoy. Set-up: Mitch and Cora Beth have just learned something of what the pair of orphans they rescued were running away from.
Oh, and to celebrate the upcoming release of this book, I’ll be giving away an advanced copy to one individual who leaves a comment today.
Excerpt from SECOND CHANCE FAMILY
Mitch agreed. Too bad he couldn’t do much about it. “I’m not sure there are any charges we can legally bring against Titus, but I promise you he will not get his hands on those two kids again.” That sorry excuse for a man would have to come through him to get to them.
She paused and her face seemed to crumple. “Oh Mitch, what those kids have been through. It near breaks my heart.”
He stood and put a comforting hand her shoulder. “I know. It’s hard to believe even Titus could be that cruel to a couple of kids.”
She stepped closer and almost of its own accord his hand slipped around her back until he was holding her in a one-armed embrace. She needed comforting. He was just being a friend – that was all.
“I feel as if I let them down,” she was saying as she kneaded her left hand with her right, “as if I should have done something to help them before it got this far. At the very least I should have tried harder to befriend their mother.”
He gave her shoulder a light squeeze and was unaccountably pleased when she leaned back into his arm. “This is not your fault” he said. “If you want to start passing blame around, dump a load of it at my door. As sheriff I should have been more vigilant in checking what was going on out there.” He caught a whiff of cinnamon and honey, a sweet and spicy mix that seemed to be a part of her.
“No, don’t–” She suddenly went still and then eased herself out of his hold. “I’m sorry.” Her cheeks were prettily stained with pink. “You must think I’m being a goose.”
“Not at all.” His arm still tingled where she’d pressed against him, felt bereft without its sweet weight to support. “Hearing Ethan’s story would upset anyone with a heart.”
“Hand wringing doesn’t do anyone any good. Those kids need more than my sympathy.”
One thing about Cora Beth, her emotions always led to action. “You’re already doing your part to help them. And even though we may not be able to change what’s past, we sure as night follows day can see that it doesn’t happen again.” Not on his watch at any rate.
“My biggest concern right now is what’s going to become of them.” She raised a hand, palm forward. “And don’t you dare mention that orphanage again. They deserve something better than that.”
This time he agreed. “I know. I’m just not sure what we can do about it.” He felt strongly that he needed to do something to make amends for his inaction – and sending them off to an orphanage wasn’t it.
“How much time do we have to figure something out?” she asked.
“We can put off doing anything official, at least until Cissy is fully recovered – maybe a week or so. And then there’s the matter of having them declared wards of the state. The paperwork on that could take a bit more time.”
She sat down again. “That’s something. I’ll be praying that the Good Lord shows me the answer.”
Mitch had a pretty good idea how this was going to end up. But she was right – leave it in God’s hands for now.
She gave him a sympathetic look. “I’ll also be praying that things go as they should with your meeting with Titus tomorrow. I certainly don’t envy you that encounter.”
After he took his leave, Mitch found his thoughts focused more on how sweet it had felt to hold Cora Beth than on what his meeting with Titus would be like.
He’d held her before. Whenever there was a town dance, he always made a point of claiming Cora Beth as his partner for several dances. But this had been different. This time she’d come to him. This time she’d drawn comfort from him.
This time she’d needed him.
Marrying her was out of the question, of course. He wouldn’t take the risk of hurting her the way he knew he would.
But maybe, as long as he kept firm control of his own treacherous feelings, he could be the friend she leaned on when she needed comfort or support.
Surely there was nothing wrong with that?